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Two human trafficking suspects arrested aboard flight to Gambia


A Nigerian newspaper, The Independent, reported that one of the two women who were apprehended at the Banjul International Airport claimed to be the mother of the child.

Two women were earlier in the week arrested for trafficking three months old baby boy aboard Air Peace flight from Lagos to The Gambia.

The women whose identify could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report, had allegedly stolen the baby in Lagos, but the uncontrollable cry of the baby attracted the Air peace crewmembers on board.

The incident it was gathered occurred on Monday aboard Lagos-Banjul flight.

A source close to the airline told The Independent that the suspected traffickers were exposed mid-flight.

When the crew members suggested to the suspected trafficker to breastfeed the baby, she declined and insisted that she would not breastfeed the crying baby.

After the baby refused to be pacified, the suspect whose identify could not be confirmed, requested for a cup of water from the crew, which was given her.

However, the baby refused to drink the water, which further arose suspicious from other passengers onboard.

Suspicious that the baby was either stolen or being trafficked, it was gathered, the crew summoned the alleged traffickers to the back of the aircraft for questioning.

The alleged traffickers told the crew members that the baby was a child from a surrogacy arrangement, but could not provide documents to lay credence to her claim.

Dissatisfied with the alleged mother’s response, the crew notified Air Peace team at the Banjul International Airport in The Gambia of the development.

When the flight landed in Banjul, Air Peace staff accosted the two alleged traffickers. Sources claimed that when the two women were separately questioned, they gave conflicting accounts of how they came about the baby.

Air Peace staff in Banjul, it was gathered, quickly called for the intervention of Banjul International Airport (BIA) Police Station in The Gambia and the suspected traffickers were promptly arrested.

A source alleged that medical tests conducted by security operatives in Banjul showed no relationship between the baby and the woman who claimed to be his mother.

Another source said the two women later claimed that the baby was being taken to his father in Banjul.

The alleged father, it was gathered, told security operatives that the baby was his. He, however, could not provide documents at the police station in Banjul to prove his claim.

Our correspondent gathered that security operatives in Banjul asked the father to undertake a DNA test to prove his claim.

The purported father told the police that the DNA test would be conducted in Nigeria, it was learnt.

The source told our correspondent that The Gambia Police rejected the alleged father’s decision to do the test in Nigeria, insisting they could not trust the medical result from the country.

Reports, however, claimed the alleged mother of the baby again changed her account at the police station in Banjul. She allegedly claimed the baby was handed over to her by a distant relation who got pregnant for a man she could not identify.

A source, however, said the alleged traffickers had been granted bail by the police in Banjul in deference to The Gambia’s laws limiting the detention of suspects yet to be charged to court to 72 hours. An unidentified Gambian, it was gathered, took the suspects on bail.

However, it was gathered that police in The Gambia were still investigating the matter to secure enough evidence to charge the suspects to court.

The baby, another source said, had since been transferred to SOS Child Care CenterinBakothe in The Gambia for proper care pending conclusion of investigation.

Contacted for his comments on the development, Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah confirmed the incident.

He, however, refrained from confirming the names of the suspects and the baby.

He insisted that the matter was already being investigated by relevant security agencies in Nigeria and The Gambia.

He, however, pledged that the airline would cooperate with the relevant security agencies to unravel the true identity of the baby.

He assured that the airline and its crew would remain vigilant to ensure the safety of its guests as well as continue to assist society in exposing suspected criminal acts.

He said: “On Air Peace Lagos-Banjul flight P47560 on Monday, June 4, 2018, our vigilant and experienced crew observed a baby crying inconsolably. The crew members, therefore, approached the supposed mother to breastfeed the crying baby. She declined, giving a flimsy excuse for her decision.

“The alleged mother of the baby eventually asked our crew for water to give to the baby when he would not stop crying. Our crew members, however, observed that the alleged mother of the baby was struggling with giving the baby the water. At that point, our crew offered to assist and took the baby from the supposed mother. But when our crew attempted to return the baby to the woman who claimed to be the mother, the baby expressed fright and unwillingness.”


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